England 1 – Germany 4

England's Wayne Rooney (L) reacts during the 2010 World Cup second round soccer match against Germany at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein June 27, 2010. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Germany and England have quite the tumultuous history, with numerous clashes decided not in regulation, not in extra time, but by penalty kicks. In England, the word ‘penalty’ may as well be a curse. They were eliminated on penalty kicks in World Cup 2006, Euro 2004, and World Cup 1998, to name a few examples.

Fortunately for English nerves, penalties were not the deciding factor today. Instead, England placed themselves on the back foot from the moment the lineups were announced. Germany used the same 4-2-3-1 formation they’ve used the entire tournament, while England continued to operate in a 4-4-2, with Steven Gerrard sometimes playing the ‘false-eleven’ FFG discussed in our USA-Ghana analysis. As we noted, the false-eleven’s inward position leaves space along the left touchline. The Germans were much better than Ghana at exploiting that area and rampaged up and down England’s left flank.

But the victors did need a little help on their first goal. In the 20th, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer launched an apparently harmless goal kick, but John Terry and Matthew Upson failed to clear the ball or mark Miroslave Klose, an inexplicable error that gave Klose the space to beat David James. Bolstered by the goal, Germany scythed through the English defense for the next six minutes until Lucas Podolski used his mighty left foot to give his squad a 2-0 lead.

The Germans let up just enough to allow their opponents to pull back a goal – a Matthew Upson header eight minutes before the break – and they almost lost their lead on a rather uncanny sequence. In the 38th, Frank Lampard smacked a half volley onto the cross bar, the ball caromed onto the ground near the line, and Neuer scooped up Lampard’s effort before the linesman could get a good look. The shot was not ruled a goal, the opposite outcome of an almost identical English strike in the 1966 World Cup final. Replays showed the ball two yards behind the line, a clear goal.

The English were able to make a slight adjustment in the second half, Gerrard was more circumspect in his movement, and the Germans were not as comfortable in possession, allowing England to pressure Neuer’s goal. However, all of England’s work was undone by two swift counters. In both cases, Thomas Mueller finished the attacks by putting the ball into the net. His two goals (67th and 70th) end a disappointing English campaign.

But hey, at least they didn’t lose on penalties.

3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Dan says:

    While Germany may have played better, England got hosed. That missed goal affected the outcome in a significant way. If it’s a 2-2 game, Germany’s strategy would probably change and Mr. Mo Mentum would probably have decided a few plays.

    Time for instant replay.

    (my argument is basically a rehash of what Dan Wetzel said in his Yahoo Sports column)

    • Blake Owen says:

      A terrible call, but I don’t think it would have changed the outcome. Germany sat in their own half for most of the second 45. If Lampard’s goal counted, I think Germany would have come out just like they did in the first half.

      • Dan says:

        I can see what you’re saying. After I watched a little of the second half this afternoon, it did appear that Ger stayed back. But it was a very, very crucial moment in the game and England’s mindset would’ve been completely different going into the 2nd half. Germany would have been rattled after giving up a two goal lead in one minute.

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